Dr Kerry-Ann van der Walt

Post Doc Researcher
Dr Kerry-Ann van der Walt

Research Interests

Thermal physiology and the effects of climate change on early life stages of fish and invertebrates in urban coastal systems

Coastal zones are important as they provide vital ecosystem functions for a host of marine organisms along with commercial, subsistence and recreational opportunities for human populations. Within the coastal realm, a diverse range of habitats, including rocky shores and estuaries, are particularly important areas for biodiversity, mostly acting as nursery areas for intertidal marine organisms or transient larvae and juveniles of marine fish species. Due to the increasing effects of urbanisation and anthropogenic climate change, these coastal habitats and the marine organisms that inhabit them are under threat. To counteract the effects of sea level rise in coastal regions worldwide, hard engineered structures such as seawalls, piers and jetties are developed, ultimately replacing natural habitats.

I am, therefore, interested in providing information on the ecological challenges associated with these man-made structures on early life stage assemblages of marine organisms and to produce knowledge on an organism’s response to anthropogenic mediated changes within coastal urban habitats by evaluating their thermal tolerance and performance. Currently, there is very limited ecophysiology linked climate change research in South Africa, hence, this project can provide novel research that is socio-economically relevant, and further develop conservation measures for these early life stages in urbanised coastal habitats.

I completed my undergraduate degree (BSc) and postgraduate degrees (BSc Honours, MSc, and PhD in Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, Makhanda. My PhD investigated the thermal tolerance and the potential effects of climate change on coastal intertidal and estuarine organisms in the Kariega estuary and adjacent intertidal coastline in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Supervisor: Dr Francesca Porri

Recent Peer-Reviewed Publications